Mendelssohn looks vulnerable at short odds in Patton Stakes
by DICK POWELL
Friday will see the $89,500 Patton Stakes at Dundalk, Ireland with Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility points available on a 20-8-4-2 basis (on the European leaderboard). The eight 3yos will go a one-turn mile on a left-handed course with a homestretch over three furlongs long. Those that do well could go on to the U. A. E. Derby (G2) at Meydan in 22 days on the dirt or ship to America for one of the many Derby prep races that will be left on the calendar.
Similar to the Dubai Racing Carnival with the sheikhs, five of the eight starters come from the O’Brien training dynasty. Aidan has three entered and son Joseph has two. At least on the night of the Dubai World Cup, we get to see the two dynasties compete. But the Patton Stakes should be dominated by the O’Brien clan.
Aidan sends out Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner MENDELSSOHN for his first try on a synthetic track and is the odds-on favorite from the rail with Ryan Moore. But before you think that he is a mortal lock to get his sophomore campaign ready to go, examine his record last year.
MENDELSSOHN cost $3,000,000 as a yearling but got off to a slow start to his career when he dwelt at the start going seven furlongs at the Curragh and wound up eighth, beaten 16 lengths. He atoned for that loss next out with a win against maidens going a mile but then was soundly beaten in the Champagne Stakes G2 by 33 lengths.
At this point, the price tag for the son of Scat Daddy was looking exorbitant but he showed signs of maturity with a second in the Dewhurst Stakes (G1) behind stablemate U S Navy Flag at odds of 50/1.
When he came to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup, I thought post one would be his undoing but Ryan Moore got him away in good order and stayed out traffic while stalking the leaders. He won going away as the lukewarm favorite but is not even one of O’Brien’s main contenders for the 2000 Guineas (G1).
So, let’s see if he can handle dirt since Aidan O’Brien’s bench is so deep and at least he has the pedigree to do it. And hope that the 3/5 morning-line favorite takes even more money in the pools.
The other two Aidan O’Brien trainees interest me more. SEAHENGE beat MENDELSSOHN to win the Champagne Stakes then was a good third behind him in the Dewhurst. His last start was the Racing Post Trophy Stakes (G1) and he did not handle the soft turf. Now, this son of Scat Daddy tries Polytrack for the first time and he showed last year that he can handle the layoff.
THREEANDFOURPENCE broke his maiden second time out going seven furlongs on yielding turf then was an even fourth in the Dewhurst. He didn’t break alertly that day and had some traffic problems but should be a rallying presence with Seamie Heffernan in the irons. He is sired by War Front, who seems to be able to sire capable runners on any surface, and is a full brother to two Grade/Group 1 stakes winners including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb.
Both of Joseph O’Brien’s runners have raced exclusively on synthetic tracks but they are purely bred for turf and don’t interest me.
The longshot that does interest me is BLACKGOLD FAIRY. I like how she came off a three-month layoff here and broke her maiden by six lengths after gunning to the front and dominating a 14-runner field going this distance. The daughter of More Than Ready gets a 10-pound weight concession from Mendelssohn and Seahenge and could be loose on an easy lead if ridden aggressively by Pat Smullen.
Our betting strategy will focus on a win bet on THREEANDFOURPENCE and then play him in exactas over BLACKGOLD FAIRY, SEAHENGE and MENDELSSOHN.
Mendelssohn photo by Lauren Pomeroy/Horsephotos.com